Why Propaganda?

By: Sinead Williams



Students will analyze historical posters/images and explain reasons why propaganda is used to influence opinion both today and in history. Students will work collaboratively analysing each example of propaganda to further discuss the use of propaganda, its intended message and bias identification in the examples

Keywords: propaganda, colonial unity, Andrew Jackson, Benjamin Franklin, political cartoons


Students will:
1. idenify propaganda and explain when and why it is used
2. work collaboratively to analyze historical images used as propaganda
3. identify how images provoke human emotions
4. design their own propaganda poster on a historic or current issue that appeals to them


Standard 1: Use research and inquiry skills to analyze American History using primary and secondary sources. (SS.8.A.1)
1. Provide supporting details for an answer from text, interview for oral history, check validity of information from research/text, and identify strong vs. weak arguments. (SS.8.A.1.1)
2. Analyze charts, graphs, maps, photographs and timelines; analyze political cartoons; determine cause and effect. (SS.8.A.1.2)
3. Analyze current events relevant to American History topics through a variety of electronic and print media resources. (SS.8.A.1.3)
5. Identify, within both primary and secondary sources, the author, audience, format, and purpose of significant historical documents. (SS.8.A.1.5)
6. Compare interpretations of key events and issues throughout American History. (SS.8.A.1.6)


Academic Preparation

Students should be familiar with the term propaganda and be able to apply the definition to identify propaganda in their daily lives.
Students should be familiar with colonial America and the Presidency of Andrew Jackson.


Preview Activity: Discussion of propaganda - what is Propaganda?
Teacher will facilitate a discussion of propaganda. Students should be able to readily identify examples of propaganda from their everyday lives - examples may include political advertisements, media sources, marketing etc..
Using PowerPoint teacher will then lead a discussion on why propaganda is used giving examples of its early use dating back to colonial times with Benjamin Franklin's disected snake - considered one of the first political cartoons which then leads into the first analysis of Colonial Unity.
Have students work cooperatively to answer the questions listed for each example of propaganda.
Teacher should circulate to ensure student on task and collaborative efforts in student groupings, and also to respond to any questions posed by students.
Teacher facilitated discussion to ensue after each analysis responding to student answers to questions on each example, clarifying when necessary and supporting when needed.
Repeat for following two examples.
Wrap-Up Activity: Using Student Handout, students will design a political cartoon depicting a historical or current issue. The cartoon will be peer edited by their partner ensuring all elements required have been included.


Informal: Student analysis and discussion of propaganda posters/images
Formal: Student written responses to propaganda questions and individual student designs including student handout with peer editing.

Extensions and Adaptations

Web search for propaganda examples - if access to lab is possible.

Estimated Lesson Duration

2hr 00min


  • American Journey
  • htp://fcit.usf.edu

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